If I had been paying any attention, I should have known we were arriving in North Sulawesi in the middle of the rainy season. January is the rainiest month, February second (weatherbase). We flew from Sorong to Manado on January 28th. Oops.
Actually we didn’t have a lot of options. Our Indonesian visas were running out, and despite being a popular tourist destination, there are very few places to fly from Sorong (flightconnections.com). The logical choices were really only Jakarta and Manado, and, well, we’d never been to North Sulawesi before.
After six weeks of snorkeling, we still wanted more so our plan was to head to Bunaken. The rain nixed that idea. It also may (or may not) be possible to snorkel with whale sharks in Gorontalo. However, the long trip and the uncertainty… well, we opted for the Minahasa Highlands.
First, two nights in Manado. After six weeks of few fresh fruits and vegetables, we were very excited by Manado’s market.
The snorkeling at Black Swiss is excellent. If I had to compare it with snorkeling I’ve done everywhere else in the world except Raja Ampat, well, it’d be right up there near the top. However, if I were to redo our six weeks in Raja Ampat, I’d skip Black Swiss and slot in Meos Ambower (also don’t miss (we did) snorkeling at a mangrove reef in the Pam Islands, perhaps Mangrove Reef (?)).
Marandan Weser was the only village we stayed at in Raja Ampat. We ended up having a fantastic week, perhaps our favorite of the six places we stayed. We got to meet some villagers and get a feel for the pace of life in a Raja Ampat village.
Bauni Merk was smiling on the beach when we arrived, smiling a week later when he dropped us at our next homestay, and always seemed genuinely happy to see us.
Of our six weeks in Raja Ampat, Dayan had the best snorkeling. It was the only time we snorkeled with manta rays, I had my best cuttlefish encounter at Dayan, and we saw more bumphead parrotfish here than anywhere else. The sun came out a couple times making the coral glow and sparkle like a psychedelic kaleidoscope.